Environmental Protection

Superfund Settlement to Cost San Bernardino County $11 Million

EPA recently settled with the county of San Bernardino, Calif., for $11 million that will be used for cleanup and enforcement activities at the Newmark Groundwater Contamination Superfund site, officials announced on Nov. 11.

The county operated the Cajon Landfill from 1963 to 1980, where the landfill accepted residential, commercial, demolition and agricultural wastes. Sampling results found impacts to groundwater down-gradient of the landfill, leading EPA to conclude that the landfill had contributed to the regional groundwater contamination. The settlement resolves the county's potential liability at the Newmark site, although the county does not admit any liability in the settlement.

"This settlement will support EPA's ongoing efforts to clean up contamination to the San Bernardino regional groundwater and to recover the costs spent at the Newmark site," said Keith Takata, EPA's Superfund director for the Pacific Southwest region. "We appreciate the county's efforts to work constructively with all the parties to clean up the contaminated groundwater."

Previously, EPA funded all of the cleanup work at the site until the first consent decree was reached in 2004. The U.S. Army agreed to pay the city of San Bernardino $69 million toward the operation and maintenance of the interim cleanup. Under the first consent decree, the city of San Bernardino is operating and maintaining EPA's groundwater extraction and treatment systems at the Newmark Groundwater Contamination Superfund site.

More than 25 percent of the municipal water supply for the city of San Bernardino's 175,000 residents has been affected by contamination.

The Newmark Groundwater Contamination site covers a portion of a groundwater aquifer used as a public water supply source for the city of San Bernardino and surrounding municipalities. Groundwater contamination was not discovered until 1980, when a new water supply monitoring program found contaminants including chlorinated solvents, tetrachloroethylene (PCE) and trichloroethylene (TCE) in several local water supply wells.

For more information on the Newmark Groundwater Contamination site, visit http://www.epa.gov/region09/cleanup/california.html

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